It's hard to believe that it's been nearly two years since the MINI Coupe and Roadster concepts (pictured below) were unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt auto show. Production is already gearing up, however, and today we have some new spy shots of the upcoming 2012 MINI Roadster in testing, this time at the Nurburgring.

Previous reports had pinned a fast-track to production on the smaller Coupe and Roadster variants, but the launch of the Countryman, a slow economy, and, likely, the realities of getting a car to market in proper form, have conspired to keep the two-door pair from meeting their once-projected October, 2010 on-sale date.

As for what to expect of the MINI Roadster: power will come from the same range of engines available in the standard Cooper line, including naturally aspirated and turbo 1.6-liter four-cylinders. Front-wheel drive will be the order of the day. Suspension and handling should be nearly identical to the Cooper, too, though it may actually be more neutral, as the Roadster is said to shift some of its weight rearward for better distribution.

We expect the Roadster to make its official production debut later this year, with sales toward the end of the year or in early 2012.


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